Let Us Introduce You: Elena Dalla Torre

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Let Us Introduce You: Elena Dalla Torre

Minghao Gao/ Senior Staff Writer

Minghao Gao/ Senior Staff Writer

Minghao Gao/ Senior Staff Writer

Minghao Gao/ Senior Staff Writer

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Born and raised in the small town of Casale Monferrato in the northern region of Piemonte, Italy, Dr. Elena Dalla Torre did not always expect her future home to be in St. Louis. Dalla Torre received her B.A. in French language and studies with an English minor at Vercellí Università del Piemonte Orientale.

Minghao Gao/ Senior Staff Writer

Dalla Torre said she always knew that her passion for languages and cultural experiences outside of her own comfort zone would someday lead her out of Italy and around the world. Her first multicultural experience was in elementary school, when she spent a year abroad in France learning the language and culture.

“I used to be a very shy kid, and speaking other languages helped me to become a different person; more outgoing and spontaneous,” Dalla Torre said.

This desire to speak other languages sparked Dalla Torre’s enthusiasm for learning languages, and today she speaks Italian, French, English, some Spanish, and her own regional dialect in Piemonte.

“I have a tendency to like all the Romance languages. I think Italian, French, and Spanish are the most beautiful languages,” Dalla Torre said.

After she completed her undergraduate education, Dalla Torre met an American friend who inspired her to move to the United States.

“When I was a teenager, I had a myth of America. I was watching all American programs, all American TV, all American actors and my favorite singer was Bruce Springsteen. Then it faded a little bit,” Dalla Torre said.

Dalla Torre moved to the U.S. to attend the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. For three years, Dalla Torre taught and received her Master’s Degree. She then attended the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor to pursue a doctorate degree in French language and cultural studies.

Dalla Torre describes her time in the United States as a “constant process of adaptation.”

“One thing that you have to get used to is the huge, empty spaces. It was one of the first visual impacts that I saw in America. In Italy, I’m used to seeing things filled and with a large amount of cultural history,” Dalla Torre said. “Here there is not past, but very present. In such vast spaces, social relations are different and makes for social interactions that are not as deep.”

Dalla Torre began her time at Saint Louis University in the fall of 2011 after 7 years in Ann Arbor.  Right now, Dalla Torre said she is still getting used to St. Louis and her favorite part about SLU is her own students.

“I like the interactions I have with them. Most of them are very spontaneous and genuine, and these are two qualities that facilitate cultural change and learning languages,” Dalla Torre said.

Dalla Torre strives to give her students a strong and authentic taste of what Italy is truly about by showing YouTube videos of famous singers and readings of historical and beautiful cities in Italy.

Dalla Torre offers viewpoints and values that involve her experiences as an Italian in the pursuit of being a global citizen, and stresses the need for reaching out to others.

“I think that as someone who has always been into communication and culture, the most important thing is to get out of yourself, and be in touch with others,” Dalla Torre said. “Turn to the person next to you and try to be in touch with people who are different than you and enjoy it, rather than fearing it. Let go of the fear and throw yourself into it.”